Russia blames Ukraine for murder of Putin ally’s daughter

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Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) claimed Monday to have “solved” the murder of the daughter of Russian ideologue and Vladimir Putin ally Alexander Dugin.

The crime “was prepared and committed by Ukrainian secret services,” according to an FSB statement relayed by Russian news agencies. It added that the perpetrator was Natalia Vovk, a Ukrainian citizen. The claims were presented without evidence and could not be independently verified.

Darya Dugina was killed in a car explosion Saturday evening after leaving a literary festival near Moscow. She attended the event with her father, who is thought to have been the target of the attack. She was driving her father’s car, who took a different vehicle at the last minute, according to Russian news service TASS.

The security agency also claimed the alleged attacker, along with her daughter, had escaped to Estonia on Sunday, after the attack.

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In a statement, Estonia’s foreign ministry said it couldn’t verify the Russian allegation. “Border service are checking if there’s truth to it. It’s an FSB claim and they haven’t found any evidence yet,” it said.

Estonia’s Police and Border Guard Board told POLITICO: “We can share information about the individuals entering or leaving Estonia only in cases prescribed by law — Russian FSB’s accusations, which reached us through the media, is not one of them. We have not received any official requests for information from Russia concerning this matter.”

Mykhailo Podolyak, a top adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, dismissed the FSB claims Monday and said Russia lives in a “fictional world.” “Vipers in Russian special services started an intraspecies fight,” he added.

The statement by the Russian intelligence agency included details of the alleged plot, including that Vovk and her 12-year-old daughter arrived in Russia in July and rented an apartment in Moscow in the same building as Dugina to gather information about her, and that she used a Mini Cooper to spy on her.

Russian President Putin expressed his “sincere condolences” on Monday, in a message released by the Kremlin, and said that a “vile and cruel” crime ended Dugina’s life, who he called “a bright, talented person with a real Russian heart.”

Dugin — once referred to as “Putin’s brain” — is no longer as close to the Russian president as he once was, but his ultra-nationalist positions and ideas underpin a lot of Russia’s more recent nationalistic shifts. His daughter, a prominent propagandist, was also an outspoken defender of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Dugin released a statement on Monday via his close ally Konstantin Malofeev, a Russian businessman and fellow ultra-nationalist. He called the killing of his daughter “a terrorist attack carried out by the Nazi Ukrainian regime,” echoing the Kremlin’s false claim about Ukraine being controlled by fascists. And he called for an escalation of Russia’s war against the country.

“Our hearts yearn for more than just retribution,” he said. “We need only our victory.”

Christopher Miller in Kyiv and Victor Jack contributed reporting.